NBC News   |  November 02, 2010

Haley Barbour: 'They're giving us another chance'

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, urges his party to be mindful that the American people were not voting for the GOP, but against Obama's economic policies.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> i promised this earlier. he's with us now. the former head of the gop, current governor of the state of mississippi, haley barbour . governor, on tonight's advances, republican party victory, control of the house. what would your first priority be with the new congress for your party?

>> first thing republicans need to understand is, this is a repudiation of president obama 's policies. but it's not that the public is saying hey, republicans , y'all are wonderful. they're going to give us a chance. they're saying, okay, guys, y'all messed up last time, we're going to give you another chance, you better earn it. the american people want control of spending. they want spending reduced as a way to reduce the deficits. they want economic growth agenda. so that means no huge tax increases like are scheduled for january. they would like to see both parties work together. there are areas in education where the president agrees with republicans . he says he's for charter schools , merit pay , for pay for performance . i don't think there's any one thing. i think that the republicans have to respond to what the american people voted for, and against tonight.

>> and yet you've done this before and you know how it feels to run up against entitlement programs, to come in off the campaign trail where certain things feel good to say them and you get applause and in some cases you get elected. then you come back to washington, the folks come back to you and say the numbers are what they are.

>> brian, one of the great things about this is there's going to be a real strong relationship between the 30 something republican governors that we'll have after tonight. and the republicans in congress. and we republican governors and a lot of our democrat colleagues, we cut spending. spending in my state today is 13.3% less than it was two years ago. the federal government has to understand spending can be cut and can be cut a considerable amount without the public knowing the difference.

>> how about the two wars we're involved in that are looming in the back ground of faded from public conversation in the context of the election, how about defense.

>> there's no question that they're expensive, but nothing should be off-limits. the defense budget can save money. i've had to save money another the department of public safety , i've had to save money at corrections. i've had to save money at economic development . but you can save money, spend less, literally spend less and get as much done. you just have to manage better.

>> are the republicans going to look to the party like two parties? how do you take in the new arrivals that look very different as tea party members of this coalition than what we have come to know as the republican party in the house of representatives ?

>> brian, i really believe that's overstated. one of the great things about this election for republicans is the issues set on the minds of the american voters, whether it was tea party voters, independents, the average man or woman were economic growth , job creation , spending, deficits, debt, taxes. you overlaid that with obama care, a government run health care system that mostly affected these elections because the american people say why did y'all spend all that time on health care when you should have been working on economic growth and job creation ? that set of issues unites republicans . it unites social conservatives , and tea party people and everybody else. so i don't really see that as a problem. one thing we do have to understand, though, we can't just say you got to do everything our way. the president has still got the mega phone. he's still going to set the agenda. we control one house of congress , but we can stand firm and be sure that spending goes down, not up. and that we don't have a big tax -- don't have a big tax increase. again, we have to have the president's cooperation to avoid that big tax increase.

>> governor, thank you very much. congratulations on behalf of your party, as former head of it. we'll be talking to you along the way. something tells you this nice conversation is going to be going